Good morning everyone! Long time no see. Well, not really. I’m here every day. But it’s been a while since I’ve done an oddities post. I have my reasons. The main reason though, is because I have new coaching duties that interfere with my posting. As in, the time when I usually would write the post is the time when I have to be coaching kids. So why don’t I just change the time when I write the posts? Shut up, that’s why. Otter doesn’t like change. Unless it’s made from metal and I can spend it.
So anyway, just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip. That started on one frosty morn, aboard a mighty ship.
But first, some background.
On April 21 1938, the keel to a new ship was laid in the docks in Devonport England. It was the keel for a new light cruiser of the Fiji class. Times were tense in 1938. No one knew exactly what was going to happen in Europe, but nations like England were preparing for the worst.
Just under three years later, on March 21 1941, the ship was launched and her sea trials began. And finally, on October 14 1941, she was commissioned the HMS Trinidad and put into service. And it was none too soon.
By 1941 England was under siege and in trouble. Germany had taken over western Europe, and was well on it’s way towards conquering Russia. German U-boats were sinking ships in the Atlantic at the rate of several hundred tons a month. And these were supplies that England desperately needed. Not only were they losing military supplies, they were losing food. England was slowly being starved.
The lend lease program the US had with England helped. It gave them ships they could use to protect the convoys of ships, but more was needed. Every ship England could muster was needed. And the HMS Trinidad was just what they needed. She was fast, 33 knots top speed, and heavily armed. Her main offensive armaments were 12 - 6 inch guns, 8 - 4 inch guns and 6 torpedo tubes. If they could locate a German sub, they stood a good chance of sinking her.
Being a light cruiser that was heavily armed and fast, she was assigned in March of 1942 to help escort convoy PQ13. This was a supply run to the port of Murmansk to help the Russians who were still struggling to keep the Germans out of Moscow. The Russians needed those supplies if they were to stay in the war. And the Germans knew it. So they threw their fleet at the convoy.
Several German destroyers sortied out of port to intercept PQ13 and a battle ensued. The Trinidad sank the German destroyer Z26 and then set her sights on another target. Taking aim, she fired a salvo of torpedoes. And, she scored a hit!
But, this being Otters Oddities, you know there got to be a twist in there somewhere. And there is. I’m getting to it.....
This battle took place in the Arctic Ocean. In March. As you can guess, it was cold. Very cold. So cold in fact that the gyro mechanism that guided one of the torpedoes was affected. It started a turn to acquire it’s target, and then froze solid. This caused the torpedo to curve around until it struck a target. The HMS Trinidad.
That’s right, she was hit by her own torpedo.
As a result of that hit, 32 men were killed. She was able to be towed into the port at Murmansk and some repairs were performed. But to be fully battle ready, she needed to get back to the dry docks in England. On May 13 she left Murmansk with an escort of 4 destroyers. But due to the damage, she was only able to make 20 knots. On May 15 20 JU88 bombers found her and attacked. Amazingly, only 1 bomb hit her, but it was near the location of the torpedo damage. Another 63 men were lost. Her speed was further reduced and the decision was made to scuttle her as she was an easy target for the Germans.
So, as a result of hitting herself with her own torpedo, the British Home Fleet lost a cruiser. The ship basically sunk herself. it would be funny if almost 100 of her 900 man crew hadn’t been lost. But, as some people would say, such are the fortunes of war.
Except, it doesn’t only happen in war.
While researching this I came across another incident that you should hear about.
This one doesn’t involve a war, doesn’t involve England, and doesn’t involve a ship.
On August 7 1979, Spain was having some fun. They were conducting training exercises. Not the boring training usually associate with the military, but the fun training where they get to fire live ammunition.
One of the units taking part in the exercise were units from the Spanish Air Force. On plane, a Mirage IIIEE, swooped in on it’s target which was placed on a hillside. It fired it’s guns and.......
The rounds ricocheted off the target and hit the plane in the engine area. This caused the engines to flame out and the pilot and crew had to eject.
Yes, a fighter plane shot it’s self down during a training exercise.
How do you explain the loss of a multi million dollar fighter in that manner? Um....oops?